Countdown brings together object-based artworks in which an “action,” either internal (such the degradation of the materials) or external (if activated by “other” sources), inevitably change the form of the works, causing their ineluctable vanishing. Featuring artists Urs Fischer, Jamie Isenstein, Kris Martin, Roman Signer and Jordan Wolfson, the exhibition, as the title suggests, is an ongoing process in which each moment is unlike any other and the exhibition space is a set awaiting a dramatic event to occur in each work. Countdown invites the viewers to see the objects, but at the same time asks them to await the events (falling, consuming, melting, decomposing, or exploding). During this “waiting” period, the viewer is also invited to experience a duration characterized by a sense of indeterminacy and, simultaneously, as a definite “countdown,” a sense of inescapable certainty of the “end.”
The works are composed either of organic materials or are destined to decay (or otherwise perish) due to processes and conceptualizations that overtly address time, chance, beginnings and endings, ethics and commerce, production and consumption. These works have a life of their own beyond that of their makers, artists who cannot fully determine their progress, and cannot prolong or safeguard their existence.
A pear and an apple screwed together and hung from the ceiling by a nylon cord introduce the public to the exhibition space.Untitled is one of the most representative and iconic works by the Swiss artist, Urs Fischer. The organic element of the fruit composes a sculpture that will decay within days. Left in the exhibition space, the small sculpture is, in fact, submitted to the effects of the natural mutability of organic components from which is made, changing its form and shape throughout the exhibition.
Roman Signer’s Sand Column is composed by eight to twelve buckets of sand are stacked on top of each other like a column. The lowest bucket has a tiny hole in its side, approximately 10mm in diameter. Some sand leaks through it and the column will thus become slanted and eventually fall over.
Jordan Wolfson’s Dreaming of the Dream of the Dream is 16mm film in which isolated clips of water from animated cartoons are organized as if in a condensed day cycle. The work is meant to be played during all exhibition hours, causing the image on the film itself to degrade slowly into nothingness. Once the image on the film has completely vanished or the film-stock has broken apart, the artwork will no longer exist.
Jamie Isenstein’s Inside Out Winter Hat Dance is composed of 300 pounds of ice piled in a cone shape with a top hat resting at its crown. During the course of days, the ice eventually melts, disappearing completely. The viewer is in the presence of a lifeless performance, played out by a figure whose capacity for animated physicality is indicated by the bare accoutrement of a top hat, which gradually descends when the ice melts.
Kris Martin’s 100 Years takes the form of a gold-plated steel ball. The shiny and perfect orb contains a mechanism of a bomb that will explode in a century. The object’s beauty hides the obscure and disturbing nature of the work. The feeling of black humor, born of the artist’s decision to delay the fate of his work so that his contemporaries could never witness this event, is nevertheless linked to a feeling of imminent catastrophe and violence.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, 1973. Lives and works in New York and Zurich. Urs Fischer’s works derive from his engagement with his immediate surroundings. The variety of materials used by Fischer are submitted to radical metamorphosis and become something different, even surprising or uncanny.
Born in Portland, Oregon, 1975. Lives and works in New York. Jamie Isenstein works with different media: performance, sculpture, installation, and video. Using a vocabulary dear to avant-garde movements such as Surrealism and Dada, her works call into question the definition of the relationship between the artist, the artwork, and the viewer.
Born in Kortrijk, Belgium, 1972. Lives and works in Gent, Belgium. Kris Martin works with sculpture, photography, and works on paper. At the core of his practice there is the unresolved question of time and its rules. He takes ordinary, everyday objects and makes simple interventions which defamiliarize them pushing the viewer to question his own position, not only in relation to the work, but also within the broader framework of existence
Born in Appenzell, Switzerland, 1938. Lives and works in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Roman Signer has drawn attention to himself over the past thirty years for his projects in which simple objects like balloons, buckets, canoes, bicycles, and explosives, are exposed to processes of movement or material transformation (melting, firing, catapulting, exploding, sinking, floating). His work usually evolves from “sculptural events” into films, photos or site-specific installations.
Born in New York, 1980. Lives and works in Berlin and New York. The work of Jordan Wolfson includes video, photography, environmental, and sound installations. His creative process ends as an art view of a site for personal experience and the communication of doubts, expectations, and wonder pervaded by a strong sense of melancholy, sadness and uncertainty.
Countdown was organized by Vincenzo de Bellis as part of the requirements for the master of arts degree in curatorial studies.
CCS Bard student-curated exhibitions are made possible with support from the Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg Student Exhibition Fund, Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg, and the Patrons, Supporters, and Friends of the Center for Curatorial Studies.